Down the end of my road is a little parade of shops. It houses all the staples of the traditional English small shopping parade. There's a couple of Indian "open all hours selling anything you want at high prices" shops, there's an old fashioned barber, there's a greasy cafe (highly recommended), an off licence, a pet shop, a dry cleaners and a few others. Also there's a disproportionate number of fast food places. We have two Indian restaurants, one kebab and burger shop, one pizza place, one Chinese restaurant, one fish and chip shop and a greasy cafe. I kid you not. There's also a florist.
The florist is the unashamed star of today's post, though I'd put money on the fact that none of the people in it actually read my blog, so will probably never be aware of the situation. It's an unusual looking place, reminding me more or the sort of shop that one would see in Paris than West London. I have to walk past it to get to the "open all hours" shops and it spreads an atmosphere of flowery sunshine.
The whole front of the shop is open to the elements with one of those big sliding partition doors that they only close when the shop is closed. So, when you walk past it feels as if you're walking through the the place, not past it. It's a decently stocked florist too. That two second glance as I stroll past fills my vision with splashes of bright colour, of reds, oranges, yellows and greens. My nose stocks up with that naturey smell, the one that reminds me of summer and nice things until the hayfever kicks in.
The more I gaze at it the more I deliberate and ponder on the issue, that delicate one, that one of men buying flowers. More accurately that one of men buying flowers for themselves. It might be that I've been lured by the clever displays and the smart marketing. It could be that I've been reading too many "Men's" magazines, telling me how to be the perfect metrosexual, in touch with my feminine side and proud of it.
It's all about this living on my own business. I know there are many men who buy flowers and probably read Darwin's recipes and copy them at the weekend but I'm not used to this behaviour. Even if I did buy flowers I don't have a vase, or a vase as you Americans say.
If I go out and buy a vase then I'd simply have to buy flowers to put in it. So there'd be no decision to make. But, if I don't buy a vase, then buying flowers will be pointless. Unless I bung them in a pint glass, or perhaps hang individual flowers off parts of my practice drum kit.
The temptation to walk into the florists and just look around is growing. But even that fills my mind with problems. It's okay to browse in a clothes shop, a bookshop or the local branch of Toys R Us. But, when the kind flower lady asks if she can help me and I tell her that I'm "just looking" she'll probably press that button that connects straight to the Police station, the one that's labelled "weirdo alert". Then I'll have to buy some flowers just to prove my innocence, making some idle chit chat about buying them for my wife or mother.
Then, as I walk out of the shop as the proud owner of a bunch of flowers she'll turn to her colleague and say
"These gay blokes pretending to be straight make me laugh with all their wife and mother stuff"
And I'm cool about gayness anyway. Some time ago someone told me I was "just gay enough" or "JGE". Apparently that's a good thing, I didn't know as it was a new term to me. I do use moisturiser on my face every day and I often drink gin and tonic. (slimline too)
You can see the situation developing here. As time ticks on I know I'll end up buying some flowers, perhaps falling short at buying myself a dozen red roses. Then, self consciously, I'll take them home and put them on display in my newly acquired man's vase. The vase will be as macho as a vase can be, ideally made by JCB and chiselled from rock and steel, without a feminine curve anywhere near it. If a vase could have stubble then my one would.
The flower shop girls, not to be confused with the pet shop boys, will think I'm a raving metrosexual. The neighbours will give me knowing glances. My daughters will think I've totally lost it. Academic bro will think I'm perfectly normal and not have the slightest idea what my fear was in the first place. My Dad, like any good Sri Lankan Dad, will think I have gone gay and that must have been why my marriage ended in divorce. My Mum will then spend some months trying to persuade my Dad that I haven't and that he shouldn't ignore me for the rest of his life.
Yet, after all this clever and intelligent reasoning I'm none the wiser. What is the definitive opinion on a chap buying flowers for himself?
Do I do it or should I continue to walk past the quaint little flower shop with that sulky look on my face?